Rep. Joseph Lee Pan Guerrero (R-Saipan) wants the CNMI government to take over and run the American Memorial Park, citing it as a means to expand tourism further in the CNMI.
With his introduction of House Bill 21-119, Guerrero intends to raise revenue through the park, while at the same time, save money for the Marianas Visitors Authority in conducting its events on-island. Guerrero is also proposing for MVA to oversee the operations of AMP. Right now, the AMP is federally-run facility under the National Parks Service.
The bill seeks to compel the governor to request the U.S. Secretary of Interior to transfer the administration of the park to the CNMI, as authorized by U.S. Public Law 95-348. That federal law also states that all improvements to the park shall then be transferred without cost to the CNMI government, but that after the transfer, the cost of development, administration, and maintenance for the park will be shouldered by the CNMI.
“This will be a great venue for a cultural center, and all these activities, Flame Tree [Festival], Taste of the Marianas, nightly street market, and so forth. …We’re talking about tourism, and what a better venue to centralize than here,” Guerrero said in an earlier interview. “It’s walking distance from Garapan, where all the hotels are. …With all the activities that we have, the use of the facility limits us, the local government, from utilizing it because of certain restrictions that are in place.”
At a House session, the lawmaker also expressed concern that the “iconic pavilion” on the property would soon be underwater, yet the National Park Service has no interest in fixing it for the past 40 years, not even bothering to fix the road nor the overgrown vegetation at the beach.
“This is something that we need to do now because we are talking about reviving the economy of the CNMI. …We need to start taking a proactive approach in how to improve the economy of the CNMI,” Guerrero stressed.
Stating that the bill is a “major step” and that the administration of the park will present significant costs to the Commonwealth, Rep. Tina Sablan (D-Saipan) said that it is possible to have community events at the park and that AMP has new leadership.
Currently, the law, as it stands, states that no fee or charge may be imposed for entrance or admission into the American Memorial Park.